Picture This! Final blogpost

This studio has been really interesting for me in getting a sense of what it’s like working in the industry as a screenwriter, and looking beyond simply how to write a story. I think that I’ve learned more especially about audio-visual storytelling, and how to convey this in my writing so that other people can understand what I’m talking about.

In my own creative practice, I feel like I’ve been able to get more practice in understanding audio storytelling. I am a very visual creative, and I wouldn’t say that I’m very strong in my understanding of sound and audio.

I also think that I have a stronger understanding of how to construct a visual story without the need for obvious expositional tactics like monologuing, flashbacks or bad expositional dialogue to drive it. Something that I think I need to work on more is not being vague without purpose. Lack of exposition and backstory can be intriguing, but doing vagueness for the sake of it would be insulting to an audience.

Something that I have tried to exercise in my final screenplay has been my confidence in writing consistently. I have found that, as a result of this, I tackled my screenplay in a way that I am unfamiliar with y not writing the script chronologically. I read some advice from a writer that I can’t remember the name of that a good writing exercise is to sit yourself down and force yourself to write for 10-20 minutes a day. So I did this, except that I wrote each scene as I felt like writing it as opposed to writing in chronological order. One day, I wrote the scene with Max’s death, then later I wrote the opening scene, and even later, I wrote the scene with the Sting. Doing this made me more invested in making every specific scene work, before I worked out how they would fit together in the overall narrative.

Picture This! reflection on feedback

About my screenplay idea and work that I’ve done so far, Dylan Murphy told me that he found my idea of a moral choice based video game interesting; he gave me the idea to look at the game Infamous, which has two separate endings based on whether the player wants to be good or evil. Since this is something that I want explore in my screenplay, I want to look into it further.

Smiljana Glisovic suggested that my screenplay was similar to Jessica Jones. I wasn’t really given much advice on how I might be able to take this into consideration on how I will write my story. It is interesting because I love the show, and the main character is inspired by Christina Ritter’s performance. I think that from her comments on my story, I’ll need to consider how I write my story in the context of superhero stories and movies that are currently popular. I also think that I should reflect on how to distance my story from others that might be in the same vein.

Picture This! W.i.p

SCENE 1 wip-1ivkf6z

This is the beginning of one scene that I’m working on for my final screenplay. I feel like I work best scene by scene as they come to me, not in chronological order.

For my story, I have decided to write a videogame. I don’t think that I’ll write the entirety of my idea, because that would be too ambitious to finish within the time I have left in the studio.

The story is that in a city where some rare people have magical abilities, a young woman develops powers and attempts to use it for vigilante justice. However, things go incredibly wrong for her, and she is forced to work for the most powerful criminal in the city.

I feel like listening to music lately has really influenced the idea that I’ve come up with. I’ve been listening to Junkie XL, who composed the score for Mad Max Fury Road, and I’ve also been listening to bands like AC/DC, Lonefree, Private Function and the Stiffys. Rock has definitely been instrumental in the kind of imagery and action that I want to write about and visualise, and the epic badassery of Junkie XL’s score is something that I’ve thought about a lot as well.

I think I want to write a videogame more than a short film firstly because I like the idea of playing with moral dilemmas and in game decisions that a player can make. Secondly, I imagine a lot of action sequences mostly, and I think that having an action videogame with my story would be compelling and exciting to write.

Picture This wk5

In an earlier class, for homework, we all sent in examples of scenes in films that use visual storytelling without dialogue. One that had a big impact on me was a scene from Children of Men (2006), when Kee and Theo are trying to escape a housing complex that is being fired upon with Kee’s newborn baby.

This scene gets me emotional every time I watch it. I think that one thing that gets me every time is watching all the grown men, all the hardened soldiers, going stock still at the sound and sight of a newborn baby for the first time in years. I think that it goes another level deeper than that; I think that the film as a whole takes many artistic influences from both classical and contemporary art, and Alfonso Cuaron uses all these artistic cues masterfully to make the audience feel intense emotion. That is definitely something that I want to be able to pull off in my writing, being able to use vision and audio, not necessarily dialogue, to convey emotion, intense or otherwise.

Something else that I think I could be working on is considering and conveying what I want the cinematography should be through a screenplay. Children of Men has beautiful cinematography, particularly full of shots that linger away from the protagonists and scrutinise the world of the film. This includes the social and political state of the film’s world, and allows the viewer to reflect on the state of humanity in the film and perhaps also in real life. I think that in my own writing, I can do a better job of conveying the actual visuals of the film. But even more so, I should improve my understanding of sound and aural storytelling. I think that this is something I should work on because I am not confident with sound and music in film.

Picture This! MT wk4

‘Screenplays should be experienced as a form of cinema itself’ whereby ‘both, although via opposite polarities, are audio-visual (the screenplay cueing the images and sounds in our mind)’ – Chris Dzialo

What I’ve learned so far from this studio that can be related to Dzialo’s quote is that screenplays need a balance between being able to interpret a script freely and being strict enough to provide laws of the universe of the film.

In one of our first classes in this studio, we spent it in groups analysing scripts from existing feature films. For most of these scripts, we felt that they would only describe action and features of the film’s diegesis that were explicitly relevant to what could be seen on screen.
Unlike a novel, which will go into great detail describing how a character feels, what they can see, hear, smell or taste, a script will only go into what can be seen by a viewer. What I got out of the exercise is that the screenplay of a film is the bare skeleton of a film. It is up to the filmmakers, designers, sound designers, writers and actors to work together to flesh out a film visually and aurally.

It’s also important to realise that directors all have their own styles of filmmaking. Stanley Kubrick will micromanage a scene down to the last little piece, whereas Judd Apatow is renowned for being flexible with actors and coming up with new moments and dialogue in the moment of production. For someone like Kubrick, the screenplay will be the be all and end all of exactly what ends up being in the film. Apatow is someone that prefers working flexibly with his cast and giving everyone on set creative freedom.

In the end, the screenplay is the absolute basic framework of a film. It can be adjusted, or it can be relied on with absolute consistency.

Picture This! reflecting on exercises

For one of our screenwriting exercises, we were given a prompt and had to practice our visual storytelling skills. In this interpretation that I did of one of the prompts we were given, I went all in full literature student mode. The main constraint was that we could not use dialogue.

I think that what I did well here was convey a sense of the story through physical action and space. I wanted to focus on the characters’ emotions and relationships through their physical movements and behaviour.

I think that I could have had a little more confidence writing this. I knew that we’d most likely have to read these to the class so I think I was holding myself back a bit. Also, this wouldn’t be appropriate as a screenplay used in industry, since it’s a bit long and waffly. This would probably be something I wrote as a novel, or wrote really early on as the foundation and then trimmed down super hard for a final script.

Picture This!

As of late, what has been really important to me in how screen stories are crafted is the way that women are written in their respective stories.


For example, in Blade Runner 2049, I feel that women take on very 2 dimensional and backseat roles. Firstly, I felt that it gave very little credit to the actresses’ abilities as performers. Secondly, I felt that it was a boring cookie cutter film, where the female characters take a serious backseat in screen time and active speaking moments. [[SPOILERS]] One of my biggest issues with the film was the scene where Officer K (Ryan Gosling)’s hologram girlfriend, Joi (Ana de Armis) initiates sex with him with the help of Mariette (Mackenzie Davis). It felt less like a scene with actual character, relationship and plot development and more like some male fantasy of a girlfriend initiating a threesome.


In direct contrast to this film, Alien (Ridley Scott, 1979) shows a compelling, 3 dimensional female with flaws and strengths that an audience likes and wants to succeed. Ellen Ripley, played by Sigourney Weaver, was originally written by the screenwriters, Walter Hill and David Giler, to be a man. By writing a character without being blinded by stereotyping qualities such as sex, race or age, Ellen Ripley is a character without any wasted screentime, action or dialogue. This is something that I also admire in Denis Villenveuve’s films Arrival and Sicario. In both these films, like Alien, the female protagonists are crafted and driven by their own personal, independent motivations and desires, as opposed to only being plot devices to their male counterparts.


What I want to get out of this studio is more ability to write characters as unbiased from their stereotypes as I can. I want to be able to fixate less on their personal qualities such as sex, race or age, and instead learn how to craft interesting and compelling characters and relationships.

Picture This! MT wk2

We had some screenwriting exercises in our tute, and since I haven’t been writing in a while I feel like I struggled a bit.

First struggle was having the confidence to get going on a prompt where I wasn’t sure if I was invested in it or not. Then having the confidence to read it out to the class.

What I learned from hearing from other people is that anything goes. Which felt fairly liberating.

I want to spend some more time over the semester actually writing stories in my own time, and practicing. To me, the most significant thing in a story that can make it or break it is character and relationships. Some of my favourite movies as of late have been those with dialogue or scripts that don’t feel like they’re bullshitting me. This includes Donnie BrascoIn Bruges and most Martin Scorcese movies. In these films, I feel as though the actors actually exist not only in the world of the film, but could exist in reality too. In a lot of Hollywood blockbuster films, dialogue feels clunky, artificial and unreal. It feels like people talk in a way that is unrealistic, or unfaithful to our own reality. I appreciate scripts that imitate, to the best of its ability, the way that people actually talk: interrupting eachother, talking over the top of eachother, etc.